Are you staring at your child’s noisy tablet and thinking it’s about time they got a pair of headphones? Not quite sure what to look for? That’s understandable; I didn’t either when it was time to get a pair for my oldest child.
There are so many headphones available out there. Some claim to be specially made for children, while others prove almost unsafe for younger users.
Don’t worry — we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the best headphones for kids, plus review the top nine models currently on the market.
Are Headphones Safe for Kids?
Headphones are great in many ways — they keep little ones distracted and give us a much-needed ear break. However, there are some safety precautions we as parents must take.
For example, we all know too well that listening to high volumes for prolonged periods can weaken our hearing. The same goes for children.
If the volume is consistently at a high level, it could cause damage to their little eardrums, and they can lose hearing over time.
An estimation showed that of the 40 million Americans affected by hearing loss, roughly 10 million have high volume to blame. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can occur after merely one exposure to high volume (1).
The scary part is that when listening to music with earphones, the volume can reach 100 decibels. Listening to concentrated music at this high volume, for just 15 minutes per day, can cause permanent damage after a few days.
When listening to anything, be it music, audiobooks or a game, the volume should always be under 85 decibels. Preferably a maximum of 75 decibels for young ones. This will minimize the possible damage caused by the volume.
But before you throw the idea of kiddie headphones out the window, there are plenty of solutions to this problem.
Some of these include apps and noise-restricting technology, while others are specifically made for younger users. These include safety precautions built-in, such as a decibel limit, to keep our children’s ears safe.
How Young Is Too Young?
Until now, there hasn’t been much research on this subject, or at least not something I was able to find. But we can look at it this way: children have petite ear canals, and the younger they are, the smaller those ear canals will be (2).
This means that the volume you hear, a young child will perceive as much louder. It will, therefore, cause more damage.
Some suggest that it’s probably better to hold off with headphones until your child is older, so they can actually tell you if the volume is OK or not.
Headphones vs. Earbuds
Headphones and earbuds may seem to be quite similar — they both deliver sound straight from your device to your ear. But they do have quite a lot of differences.
Headphones are speakers resting on the outer ear.
Some models, called “supra-aural,” cover the entire ear surface, however, they don’t seal the outside world out. Your child will still be able to hear surrounding noises, like cars, TVs or even a yelling mom.
Then there are over-the-ear models, called “circumaural.” You may know these as noise-canceling headphones. These will fully enclose the ear, keeping out any outside sound.
The benefit of headphones is that the chance of causing any hearing damage is smaller. The speaker rests on the ear as opposed to inside. However, the volume should still be at a low level to prevent potential damage.
Earbuds are generally meant to rest inside the outer ear canal. These are usually seen as less expensive alternatives. Plus, they’re lighter and less bulky than headphones.
However, earbuds can be more dangerous to children’s hearing especially as you’re supposed to insert them into the ear canal. In other words, it’s basically a speaker sitting right in the most vulnerable zone (3).
But you can make it safe by restricting the volume and time your little one is using them.
How to Choose the Best Headphones for Kids
When deciding which headphones you should buy, keep some of the above in mind. But your child will probably tell you to include the next pointer.
When buying headphones for your child, many of those that look child-friendly are, in fact, dangerous. Some offer very little, if any, hearing protection. The volume can reach dangerous levels without warning.
Some even claim to have a decibel limitation, but when tested, prove to readily exceed the “set” limit (4).
But let’s face it — children base most of their decisions on what looks good. Whether your little one is into bright neon colors or charcoal black, they will surely beg you to buy their favorite. Below I’ve included some stylish options.
Children are always tough on everything. Hence, the headphones must be able to fall on the floor without breaking.
Luckily, there are brands known for designing sturdy headphones, even with all the safety features we want for our children.
3. Hearing Protection
More and more children and teenagers are already experiencing a condition called tinnitus, due to exposure to loud noises. This ailment would normally occur after the age of 50!
It’s characterized by a constant ringing in the ear, caused by damaged nerve endings.
Fortunately, there are headphones with built-in volume reduction or, what I prefer, a decibel limitation. This will usually inhibit the volume from going over 85 decibels. However, parents should still always supervise their kid’s use and encourage them to keep the volume at a safe level (6).
The Best Headphones for Kids of 2020
Here are the best options to choose from when buying headphones for children:
1. JLab Audio JBuddies Over-Ear Headphones
Over-the-ear headphones are the ones you should choose if you worry about in-ear damage. Look for ones that are sturdy and block out other noises, which make them excellent for when your little one needs to concentrate.
These headphones from JLab are specially made for children. The over-the-ear cups will sit comfortably without falling off.
The band is adjustable, suiting growing children between the ages of six and 16. So, no need to buy a new pair for every birthday.
The material is eco-leather, with cushions providing an ample amount of padding all around.
JLab also included a decibel limit of 85 decibels. Even if your little one decides to blast up the volume on the device, the headphones will still keep it under a safe limit.
However, they don’t provide the option of going wireless if you bought the corded model and vice versa. So you must decide beforehand if you need a cord or not.
- Great design, suited for many ages.
- Decibel limitation.
- Good at canceling out other noises.
- Pinch-free hinges.
- No options for wireless or staying connected to the device. Either buy one or the other.
2. Riwbox Light-Up Bluetooth Headphones
If you're a mom to an active kid who enjoys busting a move to a good track, then wireless headphones are perfect. Going wireless allows a bigger space to jump and dance without the possibility of breaking the device. It may even encourage your child to get up and move if they tend to get stuck on the couch.
These wireless headphones from Riwbox are as colorful as they are convenient. They come in three different shades: blue, pink, and purple.
These also have an extra gem that will likely score big points from your kiddie. On each ear cup, there are blue, red, and green LED lights. These will flash up and down to the music’s frequency, but you can also turn them off if they get annoying.
The headphones come with Bluetooth 4.0 technology. This means that you only have to pair with the device once and the headphones will do it automatically after that. It also has a wide range, so there’s plenty of room to move about without the device.
They have on and off lights that show you when you’re in Bluetooth mode. Additionally, there’s a voice reminder for when the battery level is running low.
However, there’s no decibel limitation on these. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend that you buy them for smaller children.
- Fun color choices.
- Flashing LED lights.
- Excellent Bluetooth range.
- Long battery life.
- No volume limit, so not suitable for younger kids.
- Only one “boyish” color option.
3. OnAnOff BuddyPhones Explore
If you're looking for a pair of headphones for your toddler, you want to find ones with proper safety features. Therefore, finding a pair that limits the volume will surely save you from an unnecessary argument with your little one.
I highly recommend this option from OnAnOff for young children. This model is award-winning for being specially made to suit the needs of a busy toddler.
Not only do they look fun and appealing, but they’re also foldable and made with a durable plastic frame.
The ear cups are soft and padded, making them comfortable for small ears. They work as corded or wireless, so if your toddler wants to break out the moves, they can do that.
And most importantly, there’s a non-negotiable volume limit. This will keep the volume under 85 decibels, at all times.
- Foldable and durable
- Wireless and corded.
- Ear cups are comfortable.
- Decibel limitation.
- Good color choices — they even include six fun stickers so your toddler can customize them.
- The plug may not fit if your device has a cover.
- Can be difficult to connect both ear cups.
4. Elecder i37 Kids Headphone
The good old iPad is like a gift sent from above when going on longer trips. With endless space for games and music, you're sure the children can stay entertained. However, it does get loud from the back seat, and thus, headphones are a must.
These durable headphones from Elecder are perfect for when on the go. The cord is 59 inches long and made with sturdy yet flexible material. Children can pull and tug before it breaks — let’s just say it’s fight-proof.
The headphones are foldable and super easy to fit into small backpacks. An adjustable band allows it to fit a variety of ages, even adults! So you can quickly steal them when the kids fall asleep. Not that I have ever done that (wink).
The plug is compatible with most devices, including iPads.
However, there is no decibel limit on the headphones, so it may not be safe for small children.
- A universal plug of 0.137 inches (3.5 millimeters).
- Durable material, especially on the cord.
- Padded ear cups for a comfortable fit.
- Adjustable for different sizes.
- Fun color options, suited for both boys and girls.
- No volume limit.
- The jack can break easily.
5. Symphonized Kids Volume Limited Earbuds
If your child is active — maybe they play a lot of sports, love to dance, or enjoy being outdoors — earbuds are an excellent pick. Earbuds are lighter than headphones and therefore easier to tow around. Look for good quality ones that limit the volume, as earbuds can be more damaging to young ears.
These premium wood in-ear earbuds from Symphonized are a great choice for children’s earbuds.
The material is wood and silicone, plus your kid gets an eco-friendly pouch to carry them in. You can also get them in adult sizes — yay!
The technology of these earbuds is impressive. They have built-in voice control so your little one can skip tracks without pushing a button.
Additionally, you don’t have to worry too much about hearing damage since they have a volume limit of 85 decibels.
Nonetheless, there are some negatives. The tone of the sound is not optimal. It may sound scratchy at times.
Also, they aren’t as durable as we had hoped. When buying anything for children, durability is really the make or breaking point (literally).
- Great design and good material.
- Good size options.
- Child-friendly technology.
- Volume limitation.
- Decent noise isolation.
- Compatible with different devices.
- Less than optimal sound.
- Poor durability.
- Sizes run big.
6. CozyPhones Kids Ultra-Thin Speaker Headphones
As I mentioned earlier, children love style, and cuteness is generally a must. Cute doesn't necessarily have to be pink and girly. It can also suit boys — after all, aren’t all kids just adorable? Throw on some cute headphones and let your heart melt.
These super comfortable headphones from CozyPhones are cuter than cute.
The whole design revolves around an adjustable headband made from fleece. These have built-in ultra-thin speakers around the ears, transforming them into headphones. You can quickly remove them and then wash the headband in the washer.
Although these are cute, and probably some of my absolute favorites on this list, they are a bit warm. They’re probably not suitable for summer unless you’re near an AC unit.
Also, you must place the speakers just right to get the best sound. Otherwise, your little one may not hear much at all.
- Cute designs for both boys and girls.
- Soft and cozy to wear.
- Great for traveling.
- Volume limit.
- Adjustable sizes.
- Ears can get sweaty during warmer conditions.
- Can be difficult to place correctly on the head to get the best sound.
7. Snug Play+ Kids Headphones
Gaming has for many years been one of the favorite pastimes for most kids. They enter a different world where things can get crazy and noises are loud! Especially for a tired mom. Therefore, headphones with a decibel limit are essential to prevent any damage. Plus, mom doesn’t have to listen to the sound effects of the game over and over.
If your child is into gaming, these headphones from Snug are a great choice. The volume is automatically limited to 93 decibels, so you’ll be sure that your little one won’t suffer damage.
If your child likes to share, or play games with two players, the headphones also feature a sharing port on one side. One ear cup connects to the device while the other links to their friend’s.
Snug made these headphones specifically for smaller children, aged three to eight. But older children can also enjoy them.
However, it’s clear that the volume limit is a bit high for smaller children. It would probably be better if they had kept it under 85 decibels.
Some also report premature snapping of cords. Fortunately, the company seems to be more than happy to provide replacements.
- Sharing feature.
- Foldable and easy to pack.
- Adjustable size.
- Volume limit.
- The volume limit is a bit too high.
- Sizes tend to fit smaller heads.
- Reports of manufacturing errors.
8. LilGadgets Connect+ Pro Premium Headphones
If your child is often exposed to loud sounds, or struggles with concentration, noise canceling headphones are perfect. They’l seal the ears off, to keep all the hassles of the outside world away.
These noise-canceling headphones from LilGadgets are awesome.
The ear cups are comfortable, being both lightweight and padded. They go over the ear where they readily block out any distracting noise.
The headphones have a limit of 95 decibels — not as good as some of the above mentioned, but still an ample effort.
Nevertheless, the headphones are not for children under five years of age. Even though you can adjust the band, they’re still too large for smaller heads and ears.
- Good noise-canceling abilities.
- Options for going wireless.
- Decibel limitation.
- Fun colors, suited for both genders.
- Lightweight and padded ear cups for extra comfort.
- Not suited for younger kids.
- The decibel limit is too high.
- The durability could be better.
9. MEE Audio Kid Jamz Headphone
Headphones can be an expensive gift. And sometimes it's not quite worth it when the kids go breaking them a few days later. Unfortunately, children are masters at breaking stuff (seriously, is someone paying them?). But understandably, not everyone can afford to pay big bucks for a pair of headphones. Especially when you have more than one munchkin to buy for. I know I can't!
These headphones from MEE Audio pack a punch for the price.
The headphones are very lightweight and flexible, suitable for children aged four to 12. The material is hypoallergenic, BPA-free, durable plastic.
The decibel limit is at 85 decibels, so you won’t have to worry about hearing damage.
But one neat feature is the hidden parental switch. On one of the ear cups, there’s a small button that turns off the volume limit. This can come in handy in noisy environments where it can be difficult to hear, or if you want to borrow the headphones to rock out.
Still, the foam around the ear cups does seem to get a bit loose after a while. Some moms reported having to glue it back on.
- Great price.
- Excellent material.
- Good volume limit with a hidden switch.
- Suitable for young kids.
- The foam may loosen.
- Not the best sound.
Buying a pair of headphones for your little one is a great investment. It will give them some freedom to sit in the living room and blast their favorite song without you having to listen in.
However, especially if you have small children, find a pair with a volume limit. Luckily, many companies provide this safety option.
One of these is JLab, and that’s why the JLab Audio JBuddies Over-Ear Headphones are our number one pick as the best headphones for kids.
Which one of our kid’s headphones reviews is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.